Employees and guests gathered at the shipyard as Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, was invited to press the button on the company’s plasma machine to cut the first steel for the vessel, marking a pivotal stage in the programme to deliver the nation’s flagships.
Dr Fox said: “We are committed to delivering this next generation of powerful British aircraft carriers that will mark a step change in our carrier strike capability and form the cornerstone of the Royal Navy’s Future Force 2020. This major construction project is creating and sustaining thousands of jobs in shipyards around the country.”
Mick Ord, Managing Director of BAE Systems’ Surface Ships business, said: “This is a proud day for our workforce, our Aircraft Carrier Alliance partners and the thousands of people throughout the supply chain who are contributing to the delivery of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers. The construction of these 65,000 tonne ships is a huge feat of engineering and the rapid progress we have made, with work starting today on the second carrier, clearly shows the skills and expertise we have across British industry.”
Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Charles Montgomery, who also attended the steel cutting ceremony, said: “The Queen Elizabeth Class will provide Britain with the means to deliver air power from the sea, wherever and whenever required, and in a stronger and more decisive form than ever before. In addition they will be able to undertake a wide range of tasks including support to peace keeping operations and delivery of humanitarian aid in time of crisis. They will undoubtedly prove a tremendous asset both to the Royal Navy and to the UK as a whole.”
BAE Systems is a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, working in partnership with Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence to deliver the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Sustaining thousands of skilled jobs throughout industry, work is well advanced with construction on the first of class HMS Queen Elizabeth underway at six shipyards across the country, including BAE Systems in Glasgow and Portsmouth, as well as Alliance partners at Appledore, Merseyside, Newcastle and Rosyth, where final assembly will take place.
The company provides overall leadership and programme management to the QE Class programme. It also plays a central role in the design and build of the ships. Construction of the mid and stern sections of HMS Queen Elizabeth are underway at the company’s Govan yard while the forward and lower stern sections are in build at its Portsmouth facility. BAE Systems is also set to begin work on the two island structures for the first ship, which house the bridge and air traffic control facilities in the coming months. Additionally, BAE Systems is responsible for the design, manufacture and integration of the complex mission systems for the aircraft carriers.
Each 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four acre military operating base which can be deployed worldwide. The vessels will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from supporting war efforts to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
The QE Class will be the centre piece of Britain’s military capability and will operate at least 12 of the carrier variant Joint Strike Fighter jets, allowing for unparalleled interoperability with allied forces.
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